// Posted by Deirdre on 02/10/2014 (9:06 PM)
After reading Mark Poster’s Information Please and watching Frontline’s “Secret State of North Korea” I found myself trying to examine the ways in which the internet has shaped the world as we know it, and what I would do if… Read more
After reading Mark Poster’s Information Please and watching Frontline’s “Secret State of North Korea” I found myself trying to examine the ways in which the internet has shaped the world as we know it, and what I would do if there was no internet at all. Certain people, in countries like North Korea, only see the information that the government wants them to see. I recently read an article in which the author referred to these countries as “black holes” of the Internet, in which the people have no access to what we now know is one of the strongest tools for social and political change.
We’ve talked a lot in class this week about revolts inspired by social media and how easy it is to begin these riots via Twitter, BBM, Facebook, etc. Now it has become clear that there is a disturbingly stark contrast between our power as citizens and people who live in places like North Korea. In his book Information Please, Poster states that “the speed, the rhetorical traits, and the connectivity of the Net can be used to organize social movements…the Net affords the possibility of new forms of political mobilization” (Poster, 80). Our ability to share information and communicate so quickly with one another has given us tremendous power to change conditions of society that we disagree with, even for those of us who think we have no real political power other than voting in elections. Seeing the Frontline video about North Korea was troubling because it shows us what we take for granted and gives us insight into how different our lives might be without internet access (which allows us to see information about almost anything we desire). The people of North Korea are desperate for exposure to other cultures and even simple information about their own country and its ruler.
Many of us complain that social media and the internet are lessening our social skills or creating a reliance on technology. Seeing one alternative, though, puts into perspective how lucky we are to live in the US, a place where we can spread information freely about whatever we choose. Although some parts of the internet are regulated, we can certainly begin to appreciate the freedom and ease with which we gain access to information and communicate with each other. In seeing the conditions in North Korea, it is clear how horrible it would be if the rest of the world was evolving and getting access to the internet and social media while we were left behind. Looking at the map of the “black holes” of the internet, I thought of how strange it would be to live in one of those places. While I do agree that many of us rely on technology too much, I appreciate it for what it is: a tool to spread information without which I would be lost.